“Mother, is it true that there are organic the reason why there are fewer ladies in tech and management?”
Of all of the folks to area that query, it is considerably sobering that Susan Wojcicki — the CEO of YouTube — could be requested it by her personal daughter.
“As my little one requested me the query I’d lengthy sought to beat in my very own life, I thought of how tragic it was that this unfounded bias was now being uncovered to a brand new technology,” Wojcicki wrote in a robust and deeply private new essay revealed by Fortune.
Her daughter’s query was prompted by a leaked inner memo written by an engineer at Google, which owns YouTube.
In case you actually missed the memo: James Damore, a former senior software program engineer in Google’s search division, despatched out a jaw-droppingly offensive analysis to his co-workers falsely asserting that there are organic explanations that justify a lack of female representation in tech fields.
With the memo, Damore was meaning to curb bias amongst his colleagues that, in his opinion, unfairly attributed an excessive amount of of the gender hole in tech to social components (like sexism and implicit bias). The issue is, the hole exists solely due to these varieties of components — not organic ones. His memo, which sparked frustrations and anger amongst Google workers, ultimately leaked to the press. Damore was fired on Monday.
Not solely was the memo painfully inaccurate in explaining how organic variations between women and men supposedly justify the gender hole in tech, it additionally did little or no in declaring the systemic barriers and implicit biases that truly stop ladies from excelling within the trade.
The memo was particularly appalling to ladies like Wojcicki, who’s spent a lot of her grownup life overcoming very actual (aka, completely not biologically based mostly) boundaries and biases in opposition to ladies in tech.
As Wojcicki wrote in her essay (emphasis added):
“I’ve had my skills and dedication to my job questioned. I’ve been omitted of key trade occasions and social gatherings. I’ve had conferences with exterior leaders the place they primarily addressed the extra junior male colleagues. I’ve had my feedback often interrupted and my concepts ignored till they have been rephrased by males. Irrespective of how typically this all occurred, it nonetheless harm.“
In her essay, Wojcicki additionally spelled out why Damore’s firing is not a matter of free speech, as some have argued. “Whereas folks might have a proper to specific their beliefs in public, that doesn’t imply firms can’t take motion when ladies are subjected to feedback that perpetuate destructive stereotypes about them based mostly on their gender,” Wojcicki famous, calling discrimination of every kind in opposition to all teams of individuals inexcusable.
“What if we changed the phrase ‘ladies’ within the memo with one other group?” she wrote. “What if the memo mentioned that organic variations amongst Black, Hispanic, or LGBTQ workers defined their underrepresentation in tech and management roles? … I don’t ask this to check one group to a different, however quite to level out that the language of discrimination can take many alternative kinds and none are acceptable or productive.”
For Wojcicki, this challenge is not simply private to her — it is one which’s shaping how her personal little one sees herself and her future.
So it is smart that the YouTube CEO gave her daughter a solution that cuts straight to the reality.
“Do variations in biology clarify the tech gender hole?”
“No,” Wojcicki instructed her daughter. “It’s not true.”